A man who faces life imprisonment for raping and killing a University of New Hampshire student in 2012 does not want to appear for his sentencing this week.
Seth Mazzaglia was convicted June 27 of first-degree murder and other felonies in the death of Elizabeth “Lizzi” Marriott of Westborough, Massachusetts. Prosecutors say he strangled, then raped the 19-year-old Marriott in his Dover apartment after she rebuffed his sexual advances.
Mazzaglia’s girlfriend, Kathryn McDonough, is already serving jail time for hindering prosecution.
Mazzaglia, 31, is facing a mandatory sentence of life without parole. He is scheduled to be sentenced Thursday, and at least 11 family and friends of the victim are expected to give statements. In a brief motion filed Friday, Mazzaglia said it is his constitutional right to not appear.
In his response, prosecutor Peter Hinckley wrote, “To be sure, the defendant has a constitutional right to be present, and can waive that right.” But he said Mazzaglia has not set forth any reasons he should be absent, and that the interests in having him present outweigh his objection.
Prosecutors will argue against the motion at a hearing Tuesday in Dover.
Hinckley said Mazzaglia should be held accountable for the crime, that his presence in court will help avoid any unnecessary and unwanted confusion, and that the interests of the victim and her family are “hardly more compelling than in this case.”
“The defendant received his fair trial,” Hinckley wrote. “It is now fair for him to personally receive the sentence that will result from such.”
Albert “Buzz” Scherr, a University of New Hampshire law professor, said such requests are “not remarkably unusual,” and he’s seen judges grant them.
“What’s he going to miss? He’s going to miss the judge probably saying nasty things about him, and other people saying nasty things about him,” Scherr said.
He added, “I think it will be painful to the victim’s family that he’s not going to be there, I would imagine.”
Jurors heard testimony over the course of 19 days and convicted Mazzaglia after a full day of deliberations.
The key witness, the 20-year-old McDonough, lured Marriott to their Dover apartment. She testified that Mazzaglia wanted another woman to join their sexual escapades, which included bondage.
McDonough first told investigators that Marriott died during rough sex between the two women that involved restraints. After getting immunity from prosecution, McDonough changed her story and said Mazzaglia strangled Marriott, then raped her.
Mazzaglia did not testify.